Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Does self-checkout make sense for Costco?

    There are definitely more pros. Costco should balance the number of self-checkout stations with assisted checkout stations. Many of Costco's customers are long-time loyal and know the retailer and its stores well. Some of them (hard to tell what percentage) will welcome self-checkout and will use it because one of the few frustrating issues with Costco is having to wait in line. Self-checkout will at least give the perception that one is moving fast through the checkout line. What's next? The digital membership card on the smartphone!
  • Posted on: 06/14/2019

    Will empathy training take Walgreens to a new level?

    Empathy has a lot of play in it. The first benefit is the gratitude of those afflicted. The second is the reaction of those who observe it. In general, it's an admirable public relations effort.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Indochino bets big on showrooms

    This is not really "showrooming," this is where you actually have your measurements taken and then a garment is produced. It used to be called a tailor shop.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Indochino bets big on showrooms

    The adage that "there is nothing new under the sun" is reborn, as is the sartorial model to which Indochino evolved. The company was born as a pure-pay internet retailer in which the customer took his own measurements and the garment was subsequently produced and shipped. The model is now, come into our showrooms (the tailor) and we'll make it for you. That is not new but it's better and there are far fewer returns and repairs. Taylor, Schneider, Sastre, Sârtre, they are all the same and been around for centuries. But they work, so they keep coming back.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2019

    Nestle, Kellogg’s and others dump their DSD routes

    The answer is probably in the profit margins. The higher the margin on a range of products, the more likely that DSD will remain.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2019

    Will a credit builder program create a new legion of loyal Amazon shoppers?

    This looks a very good idea. The interest rate borders on usury so that may keep some aspiring customers away. It is a great place to start if the consumer has enough money to not incur interest charges, but just didn't have credit history heretofore.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service

    The concept of delivery-to-fridge has limited potential. Some consumers will welcome it and some will never go for it. We are familiar with some service people, whom we use often, and who we would trust inside our home alone. It would take a long time for many consumers to feel so confident about an unknown delivery person.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

    I have seen where pharmacies in other countries take turns staying open all night throughout the week and the rotation is posted outside of all participating pharmacies. Healthcare can and probably will evolve to a point where doctors' offices can be the emergency care centers, take turns and consolidate into fewer, more efficient centers of care.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much

    Available help and advice; deep merchandise assortment. It's too simple!
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Will a city’s ban on tobacco sales catch on across the nation?

    This could expand easily to other, but not all, states. It depends on whether or not tobacco gets reclassified as a killer drug (as opposed to a killer app), like cocaine, heroin, and opium.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    The checkout concept is a complicated combination of technology, ergonomics and human emotion. Piloting and adjusting to the customers' reactions will determine how the scan-and-go concept evolves at Walmart into the form that is used in the long term. Can't go wrong by testing.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?

    A great concept to save money by retailers. Returns processing has to be costly, and most returned products must be sold as "open box" or "refurbished" at a lesser price. This works well for high ticket items. I bet a retailer can still get a lot of money for a Patek Philippe refurbished piece. Not so for a pair of running shoes. Another company, Happy Returns, is trying to monetize the value of not sending returns directly back to the retailer (or manufacturer?) precisely because of the high cost of processing those returns.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    Consumers are changing – or not – in ways that retailers may not understand

    What I see as most significant is not a change. I believe that perceived value is still the driving force behind at least half the purchases. While Millennials may not buy automobiles like their parents did, they will pay a premium price for a premium liquor drink.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Are retail HQs and stores suffering a communication breakdown?

    Mark is on point. Communication to and acknowledgement from are key components of effective exchange. One solution with which I am very familiar is Theatro Communicator. This is a wearable device intended for all hourly employees on up the hierarchy. But still, stormbound communications have to be funneled through one group to avoid conflicting directives: they have to be clear, they have to be concise, they have to make sense and, if possible, there should be a method to acknowledge receipt and completion, and the execution should be auditable remotely (such as having digital images of the completed work).
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Growing demand for local products leads to out-of-stocks

    Yep. That's the acronym! It can be used with the local suppliers electronically or by homing pigeon.

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